Rios Adobe
31781 Los Rios Street

The Rios Adobe is the oldest continuously occupied residence in California and is located on Los Rios Street. Los Rios Street was named for this family. It has been occupied by the descendents of the original family for over 200 years. Feliciano Rios came to San Juan Capistrano with Father Junipero Serra in 1776. He served as a soldier at the Mission for at least ten years before his retirement. Rios married Maria Catalina Garcia de Romero of Mission San Gabriel in 1793 and was given permission by the Mission in 1794 to build a home. This was one of the twenty adobes built along Los Rios Street.

In 1843 Santiago Rios, third son of Feliciano was given a Mexican land grant of 7.7 acres within the original grant (300 varas square) on which the house still stands. He received this grant from Mexican Governor Manual Micheltorena. This is the smallest Mexican land grant recorded. Mexican land grants conveyed title to the land. During the 19th century the building passed down through the family to male descendents. These men and their wives are a significant part of the history of San Juan Capistrano.

Gregorio Rios, grandson of Santiago, is supposed to have sheltered the notorious bandito, Joaquin Murietta, in the attic of the house in the 1850s and may have provided horses as well. In the living room above a display case is a trap door that leads to an attic room where Murrieta was thought to have rested between raids on the ranchos.

A renowned horse trainer, Damian Cosmos Rios, son of Gregorio, often had individuals from England and the East Coast buying their polo ponies from him. In 1927 Gertrude Riena Rios, his wife, opened a restaurant, Casa de Los Rios, at the adobe. During the Depression period the restaurant provided additional income for the family which had nine children.

Daniel J. Rios, Damian and Gertrude's son, landed on Normandy Beach in World War II. Daniel was later the head of the Homicide and Robbery details of the Orange County Sheriff's Department. He was well-known for his barbecuing and salsa-making abilities. Many a barbecue was held at the Rios Adobe.

Juanita Rios Foy, sister of Daniel, was born in the Rios Adobe and was the Matriarch of the City from 1986 to 1991. She was active in the Juaneno Indian Council.

The current owner of the adobe is Stephen Rios. Stephen is a former Marine and was Executive Secretary to Governor E. G. Brown, Jr. He was a member of the Native American Heritage Commission and worked to ensure burial sites would not be excavated. He is raising the 10th generation in this adobe.

The Rios Adobe was originally two rooms much like the Montanez Adobe and has been added on and changed over the years, depending upon the generation that as living n the home at the time. In 1998 a two-story addition to the rear of the adobe was added but did not change the adobe itself.

Private residence. View from street only.

 

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San Juan Capistrano Historical Society
31831 Los Rios Street
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
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